In a landmark decision the Inspector’s report in to the South Oxfordshire Core Strategy has recommended deleting a strategic land allocation and devolving all housing allocations to the Thame Neighbourhood Plan.

In March 2011 the Core Strategy for South Oxfordshire District Council was submitted to the Secretary of State with a strategic site allocation of 530 new dwellings to the north west of Thame.

It is now recommended this strategic site is deleted.

Firstly, because Henley-on-Thames Town Council is a government neighbourhood planning frontrunner and is preparing a Neighbourhood Plan.

And, secondly, because the Inspector recognised that:

“The strategic allocation has many favourable sustainability credentials. However, it is unclear that it has the scope to accommodate as many as 600 new homes…”

The Inspector went on:

“During the evolution of the CS a number of other potential sites around Thame have been found to have their particular advantages and disadvantages and their own sets of supporters and opponents. Moreover, the P[roposed]C[hanges]s reflected the fact that more than one site is required to provide for the town’s total housing growth, and it is evident that there is considerable local support for spreading this scale of provision among a number of different locations.”

In accepting these arguments South Oxfordshire made a number of proposed changes to the Core Strategy.

The Inspector has, therefore, found the Core Strategy for South Oxfordshire sound subject to a number of main modifications

Crucially, for this, and other neighbourhood plans, one of the main modifications

“devolve[s] all housing allocations to the Thame Neighbourhood Plan” [1].

This means it will now be the job of the Thame Neighbourhood Plan to allocate housing land in the neighbourhood rather than the District Council’s land allocations development plan document.

This reinforces two of the points Kirkwells have been making in our neighbourhood plan training. One that your neighbourhood plan must be in “general conformity” with the strategic policies of your local council. With regard to this, the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in paragraph 184 states: “Neighbourhood plans must be in general conformity with the strategic policies of the Local Plan. To facilitate this, local planning authorities should set out clearly their strategic policies for the area and ensure that an up-to-date Local Plan is in place as quickly as possible.”

And, secondly, in influencing the strategic policies of your local council you must remain engaged in the Local Plan process, but you can use your emerging neighbourhood plan as a key tool in doing this.

Therefore, this decision is a landmark case for the relationship between Neighbourhood and Local Plans in future. And a decision neighbourhood planning areas may be keen to repeat elsewhere in the country.

To find out more about Kirkwells’ neighbourhood planning services download our leaflet,  read Neighbourhood Planning News, find out about our work with frontrunners, email, or call:

01282 872570

[1] Report from Planning Inspector: South Oxfordshire Core Strategy 


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